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What You Need To Know About Wireless Systems

An in-depth yet easy-to-understand discussion of wireless systems, how they operate, issues that can plague performance, and solutions that do the trick in the vast majority of situations.

By PSW Staff May 16, 2012

A praise leader enjoying the convenience of wireless technology

Editor’s Note: This article provides straightforward explanations of the primary issues that account for a full 80 to 90 percent of all wireless microphone system problems, while also presenting solutions that will do the trick in most cases.

However, keep in mind that the best solution is avoiding these problems from the outset. Certainly this won’t guarantee completely trouble-free operation, but the odds dramatically improve.

This compilation of wireless system knowledge is provided by several highly qualified professionals, with Gary Stanfill, who has worked with wireless and related technologies for more than 40 years, topping this list.

Our sincere thanks to Gary as well as others who have contributed this important information.

This primer is presented in three parts.

Part 1, Getting Started, begins directly below.

Or, go directly to the other parts:
Part 2: Avoiding Wireless System “Issues”
Part 3: Downsides Of Digital

Part 1: PSW Wireless Primer

Getting Started
Anyone who has used wireless microphone systems for even a short time doesn’t need to be sold on their advantages. “Going wireless” allows concentration on the message rather than on the mechanics of delivering the message. (No more pesky mic cables!)

Yet wireless systems can be slightly mysterious, prompting suspicion among some users – particularly if they’ve experienced problems for unclear reasons.

The easiest way to understand wireless systems is to think of them as small-scale radio and TV broadcast stations – a transmitter sends out a signal that is picked up by a receiver.

For a number of reasons, including size, weight, battery life and government regulations, wireless systems operate at quite low power and thus have limited range.

The wireless microphone (or bodypack) is the transmitter, complete with a mic capsule, some audio circuitry, and an antenna (usually built into the case). It sends radio signals to its companion wireless receiver, which also has an antenna and some circuitry to select and process the signal, which is then sent via a cable to the sound system.

The transmitter and receiver of each wireless system must share the same frequency. Any other wireless systems in use in the same area must have their own frequencies as well. Ugly noise is produced if two wireless systems are using the same frequency in the same area.

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